The Fresh Loaf

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Changes in dough weight

Laeth's picture

Changes in dough weight


This might be a weird /stupid question so pls bear with me, it’s been bugging me for a while and I’m sure someone here will have an insight about it.

Why does the weight of the dough change during the sourdough making process?

Sometimes I  need to make 3 medium loaves out of a recipe that yields 2- 900g loaves. 
So I thought I’d get the weight of the dough after the last S&F or coil folds when it goes into the last stage of the BF and split in into 3, that gave me 1,017g

When I was ready to divide and pre-shape I weighed it again and this time I got  1,795 g

What causes the increase? Is it the gases created by the fermentation?


tpassin's picture

This sounds very strange.  It's a very large increase. The fermentation gases can't add to the weight because their molecules are already present in the dough before fermentation. In theory some water could be absorbed form the atmosphere but no way could that explain such an increase.  More likely would be small losses from water evaporating during processing.

I suspect operator error.  Try it again next time you make some bread and see if you get an increase again.

In my own loaves, the baked weight usually equals the weight of the ingredients minus a small amount (typically a few ounces) that is presumably water that evaporates during baking.

Moe C's picture
Moe C

Perhaps, especially if the dough was in the same container it was originally weighed in, the second weigh didn't tare the container. I don't like putting dough directly on my scale plate, so I always use a container of some sort. If you weighed your dough directly, then.....never mind.

tpassin's picture

I put a paper towel on the scale plate when I weigh dough that's not in a container.  I have not got around to marking the most common containers with their empty weight, but it would be worth doing.

pmccool's picture

1. Operator error (a personal favorite)

2. Scale is malfunctioning or damaged

3. Scale battery is due for a change

4. Math error if the dough was weighed in pieces rather than whole

Just to make sure that I’ve understood what you’ve said: The nominal recipe yield is 1800g.  The first time you weighed the entire dough mass, it was 1017g.  The second time you weighed the entire dough mass, it was 1795g, almost exactly the nominal yield.  It looks as though there was something off with the first measurement, since then second measurement is well within the expected margin of error.


Laeth's picture


I divided the dough into 3 pieces  for the pre- shaping and weighed each one, I think your guess that I made a mistake there must be correct.


Laeth's picture

Thanks to all of you, I think I made a mistake when I weighed the divided dough pieces. I don't think is the scale since the low battery alert is not showing.

Next time I'll compare the weight in the container before taking the dough out to divide and shape..

thanks again, it's so helpful to have other bakers to come to when I have a problem ;)



therearenotenoughnoodlesintheworld's picture

Don't discount scale issues...even when the batter indicator hasn't gone into warning mode.

I was having terrible issues with scale consistency (on several good brands) that it was becoming unworkable and I gave up on them and went back to mechanical scales. It may not just be battery, it could be component issue, humidity or contamination (remember as it is in a kitchen - any grease or residual build up can cause issues). Also I found the issue was more prevalent the older rechargeable batteries got.

I know it's not for everyone, but for those having issues with battery scales, I would suggest looking at electric bench scales and if their cord is an issue, hunt around for a good resolution mechanical scale. In addition to shop scales, old post office letter/small package scales are just about perfect size/resolution for home bakers. Given it's food related, just look for ones in good condition and able to be cleaned down when needed.

I now have 2 mechanical scales which I love dearly (also not replacing batteries is a forgotten joy) - the everyday 6kg (12lb) one with resolution down to 0.5g (0.017 Oz) with tare mechanism, the other down to 0.1g (0.003 Oz) for spices.